Moviegeek5: Wicked Witches
Witches, who have haunted the human imagination for centuries, has also made regular appearances in horror cinema since its early infancy. Just think of Benjamin Christensen’s fictional documentary Häxan (1922). In our contemporary culture, witches are often thought of as some sort of advanced hippies with a special connection to a deified natural world and that view has spilled into cinemas with many good-natured and lovable witches. However, the original sense of the witch as a familiar of the Devil and truly the stuff of nightmares is still very much with us, a fact the final entry on our list can attest to.
We have chosen five examples of wicked witches causing mayhem in the victim’s lives. You can see them all below. Let us know in the comments which is your favourite and feel free to share recommendations!
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
This superb psychological horror directed by Roman Polanski and based on Ira Levin’s great source novel, is perhaps not the first title to spring to mind when thinking og witch films. The film follows Mia Farrow’s Rosemary, there is no scene without her in it and nothing not seen from her perspective. Therefore, the witchcraft happens off-screen and is not indirectly shown. But anyone who has seen it and knows its surprise ending will know that this is very much a witch film – and a truly great one to boot!
This Italian horror directed by Dario Argento is set in a remote German ballet school where the school leaders are not what they seem. Jessica Harper plays the young newcomer to this veritable house of horror and we share her shock as the terrible truth is revealed. Needless to say, it involves witchcraft – but actual witchery takes a backseat to gore and shock humour in this classic of European horror.
The Witches (1990)
It may seem weird to see this movie based on Roald Dahl’s children’s novel, but the title is Wicked Witches and the witches in it is definitely wicked! Especially Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch makes and impression with her long sharp nose, scarlet red lips and cackling laughter. Even in human custome the tall and aristocratic Huston makes an impressive and intimidating figure who can freeze you with a steely look, something she put to good use again the year after, where she played Morticia Addams in The Adams Family, in her best known and beloved role. But many will shudder at the thought of her in this movie, where she tormented them when they watched in their childhood as she planned on taking out all children in England. Truly wicked, she was.
The Blair Witch Project (1998)
This entry was probably the most talked about horror released of the 90’s, due in large parts to a brilliant marketing campaign which sold the this found footage film as the real deal. Blair Witch single-handedly revived the found footage subgenre and is one of the most financially successful independent films ever. The film consists entirely of the “found footage” left behind by three film students who disappeared in a Maryland forest while making a documentary about the Blair Witch. The film has its critics, but the execution is effectful and although never actually shown, this is one creepy witch!
The latest film on our list is in colonial America a few decades before the witch scares of the time lead to the infamous Salem Witch Trials. This impressive rendition of the life and manners of a Puritan family of 1630s America is all the more impressive for being the début feature of writer/director Robert Eggers. The film is mostly set in a farm house and the surrounding woods and is at its heart a family drama and an effective study of how a family can disintegrate when attacked by an evil force. The witch is shown a few times only, but is it effective. This is great drama and great horror rolled into one and that is likely to stay with you for a good long while.